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The potential impact of digital rights management on the Indian entertainment industry

Nilanjana Sensarkar (Doctoral Associate, Queen Mary Intellectual Property Research Institute, University of London)

Journal of International Trade Law and Policy

ISSN: 1477-0024

Article publication date: 31 May 2007



For India, having being endowed with a rich heritage of art and culture, copyright is perceived to offer potential rewards. The entertainment industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the Indian economy. At present, India is not a signatory to the WIPO Internet Treaties, but the government has proposed amendments to the extant legislation to incorporate Digital Rights Management (DRM) as enshrined in them. Conventionally the western entertainment industry has viewed DRM as an important tool to combat piracy pervasive on the internet. DRM involves the application of a set of technical and legal mechanisms that allow copyright owners to control the access to their works, determine the types of permissible uses and terms of such uses and the ultimate distribution of their works in the digital world. With the growing popularity of Indian cinema abroad, the entertainment industry is attracting increasing foreign investment, is gradually being corporatised and thus it is felt that such investments need to be protected. DRM is considered to be one of the solutions as it prevents loss due to unlimited unauthorized reproduction of works, introduces more effective market segmentation and promotes the incentive to create, facilitating the maximum exploitation of works in the digital world. However, for India, a developing economy, such a path is to be treaded with caution. DRM is an extra‐statutory measure, with perceived potential impact on consumer privacy, innovation and limiting legitimate exceptions. A unique feature of the industry is that it is an extension of its dynamic indigenous folk and classical cultural tradition where the emphasis has been on adaptation and improvisation, drawing upon works in the public domain. Some experts observe that DRM poses a threat to such a tradition by artificially restricting the public domain.This paper explores the likely impact of the proposed introduction of the DRM provisions in the Indian Copyright Act, 1957 with its focus on Bollywood and the related music sector. Given the tension surrounding DRM, this paper examines the aforementioned issues, taking into consideration the promotion of the underlying objectives of copyright law. Noting that the case for strong copyright protection as a key for innovation is highly debatable, this paper argues that India should keep in mind the flexibilities under law as provided by various international treaties and in technology before adopting the DRM approach.



Sensarkar, N. (2007), "The potential impact of digital rights management on the Indian entertainment industry", Journal of International Trade Law and Policy, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 45-55.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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